If Michael Bisping was as prolific in the Octagon as he is with his trash talking, perhaps he’d already have a UFC belt wrapped around his waist.
‘The Count’ landed the early blows as he and 185lbs champion Luke Rockhold came face to face at the UFC 199 pre-fight press conference. And it got nasty, fast.
The warring middleweights blasted each other with taunts, threats and a wide-range of colourful language ahead of tomorrow’s reshuffled main event in California at The Forum.
For 37-year-old Bisping, he will enter the Octagon as the No. 1 contender for the very first time, owed to Chris Weidman’s injury pullout which gave him his short-notice shot, after a decade with the UFC.
Rockhold, on the other hand, is hoping to once again shut up a rival he choked out 16 months ago as he defends the belt for the first time since defeating Weidman at UFC 194. But the main event may have had an entirely different look about it were it not, according to Bisping anyway, for Rockhold “turning down” an initial fight with Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza.
It was thought Jacare, the first choice option, passed on the opportunity to step in for Weidman because he needed knee surgery. Bisping was viewed as the ‘Plan B’ but that was not the case according to the Brit.
“Luke says that he’s on a different level than everybody else and he’s by far the best fighter and he can destroy anybody and this, that and the other,” Bisping said at Thursday’s press conference.
“Well, if that is the case, then it turns out he’s a liar, because he turned down Ronaldo ‘Jacare,’ whatever his name is. He turned the fight down. I didn’t turn this fight down. Two weeks, two days, two hours, I’ll take on anyone, any time, any place.”
Rockhold denied that version of events, instead insisting he “chose” Bisping over Jacare because his motor-mouth rival will help shift pay-per views.
“Jacare turned down the fight. I never turned it down,” Rockhold said. “Fortunately, a clown like you will pay the bills.”
Bisping was the clear winner in the verbal exchanges and likely scored a victory over Rockhold. But on two-weeks notice, he is a massive underdog against the longer, stronger and younger champ.
Should he become the first ever fighter hailing from the UK to hold UFC gold, though, that may well even be enough to leave one of MMA’s best trash-talkers, speechless.